Friday, August 5, 2011

Confessions of an Isolated Mom

So today I guess I'm throwing myself a little pity party.  I really don't want to but sometimes my isolation starts to overwhelm me.  I've been told that most stay-at-home moms feel isolated, but this really began before I even had my son.  And it's very odd for me because I've always been surrounded by a close group of friends.  In high school, in college, in law school, at my first job out of law school... Then after that it seemed like everyone I knew very well kind of dispersed and I was left with very few friends and no time to see them.

When we first married, Mike and I attended this one church that had a HUGE young marrieds group.  We tried and tried to make our way into this group.  We attended gatherings they had and joined a small group but we were never included in their friend plans or if we were, it was because we were standing right there when they started talking about it.  So finally we concluded that this was apparently not the place for us.  A couple churches later I feel like we're in the same boat.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our church.  I love the teaching.  I love what the church is all about.  I think the people there want to engage in deep fellowship but it's easy for some people and isn't for others and I'm apparently one who it isn't easy for.

I have concluded that it's probably primarily my fault.  Mike and I are rather shy people at first.  That isn't to say that either of us are unfriendly but I'm highly unlikely to walk up to someone I don't know and start talking.  This is because I feel like I'm being phony (it's not natural for me to start talking to someone I don't know and I never know what to say) and I feel like I'm annoying the person.  If I do bother to talk to someone and they don't make a big effort to keep the conversation going then I feel like they probably have better things to do than talk to me and so I try to let them easily slip away so that I'm not irritating them.  Again, this is probably my sinful nature because I am so easily irritated that I assume other people must be as well.

This has resulted in me feeling like I have maybe one close friend at my church.  And I know she is good friends with a lot of other people so it really wouldn't matter much if I wasn't around anymore.  Plus, she's super busy--even moreso than other people--so I always feel like I'm intruding on her schedule if I try to see her.  I have attempted to schedule playdates with other people besides her but these always somehow manage to get screwed up in some way or if they are a success at all, they're never repeated.  I suppose I could do the asking for a second playdate, but again, I always feel like others have enough friends and don't need me, so I'm just adding to their to-do list or annoying them.  I'm even starting to wonder if this blog is a waste of time because I don't think anyone besides my mom and a few select others who don't live anywhere nearby read it.

I have heard that all stay-at-home moms feel isolated but it seems like I always see evidence of other people spending time together, either at playdates or other outings.  And honestly, I don't really know what to make of this.  It can't all be me, can it?  But some of it must be me since it's been going on for years and we've changed churches and this keeps happening.  I thought when I had my son I would develop more friendships with the moms at my church (not that I had him for that purpose, of course) but it just hasn't occurred.  Not that they have been unfriendly, but they already have friends and I do not.  It's more effort to make a new friend than to keep old friendships going, it seems.

I'm not really sure what my purpose is in writing all of this.  Perhaps simply to get it off my chest.  Perhaps to write it out and analyze it and see how I can rectify the problem.  I have prayed about it but God must be doing something because so far I don't feel like my requests have been answered.

Perhaps the best thing I can do is to suggest to those of you who don't have the social hindrances that I do that there are people out there who may seem standoffish or like they have it all together and are fine, that really are lonely and isolated and need someone like you to approach them and make an effort.  Yes, people like me probably should make more of an effort ourselves but remember, it is hard for us.  It doesn't come natural to us like it does to other people.  To those of you who it does come natural, try today to talk to someone who seems like they'd rather be left alone--trust me, they wouldn't.  Talk to someone who seems standoffish--the truth is really that they're just shy and don't want to bother people.  Invite someone you barely know to do something that won't involve your sister or your other best friend or your mom randomly showing up--they won't say that it bothers them and hinders them from really connecting with you, but it does: it's clear you already have friends and support, so what would you need them for?

I don't know if this is going to be helpful to anyone at all because, like I said, I'm not even certain anyone actually reads this.  But if it helps one shy, lonely person to make a real friend--not just a superficial "say-hi-on-Sunday" friend--then I suppose it was worth it.

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